Lake Park edges closer to 140
In the last decade the only team to win the Neuqua Valley Invitational other than Prairie Ridge co-op was Lincoln-Way co-op in 2011.
Lincoln-Way co-op finally won it again on Saturday, edging District 230 co-op by 0.275 of a point.
The winners scored a 141.775, followed by the runner-up's 141.5, third-place Lake Park's 139.7, Prairie Ridge co-op's 139.7 and a fifth place effort from Waubonsie/Metea Valley co-op with 134.975 points.
This particular invitational always has a theme, and this year it was superheroes. Although "shorthanded superheroes" may have been more appropriate since so many key gymnasts did not compete and others had to fill in and step up.
"I don't think they expected to win today so it was really fun to see them pull together," Lincoln-Way co-op coach Kory Thompson said. "We had a lot of people that stepped up that aren't normally in the lineup filling the gaps."
Prairie Ridge's bid to win this invitational for the ninth consecutive time proved difficult without its full lineup. But it got much bigger priorities in the coming weeks, including attempting to return to state after a hiatus last February.
Instead of winning a trophy, Prairie Ridge won fun, bringing just Cassidy Barnes, Katie McEnery, Sophia Krcik, Morgan Quinn and Delaney Wells to Naperville.
Quinn won beam and was second in the all-around.
"I'm normally a specialist so being thrown into all-around was different," she said. "It was completely unexpected. I've come back stronger this year than last year so this was so much fun."
Senior Katie McEnery, competing as an all-arounder for just the second time this winter, placed third.
"I've had different issues with injuries and we have other girls who are amazing so it was a good opportunity today to compete all-around," McEnery said. "Even though it's fun with the entire team and 11 girls cheering, today was fun with a small group.
Krcik took fourth place on beam.
Lake Park continues to flirt with 140, falling just 0.3 short.
"We're moving in a good direction and just need to build consistency now," Lancers coach Jake Luketin said while donning a Batman T-shirt. "We'd love to get that 140, but we need to hit routines and be more consistent. We're getting better on bars and beam, but we still need improvement, and on vault too, so we can be confident going into conference and the state series."
Julia Kurek took fifth in the all-around to pace the Lancers. She was second on bars and fifth on beam.
"I love the atmosphere of this meet and seeing the different teams," she said. "We're trying to work together and keep improving and we're getting close to that 140 in each meet."
Waubonsie Valley/Metea Valley co-op had three strong finishers in Thalia Bowen, Thera Bowen and Destiny Carter. Thalia Bowen took fifth on vault, Thera Bowen tied for seventh on beam and Carter tied for sixth on floor and was third on beam.
Carter's 9.0 on beam was a personal best, surprising herself a bit.
"I stayed on during some of the jumps and the dance things felt more solid, but I was nervous," she said. "I fell a couple of times in our last meet so I just tried to take it one skill at a time, but I had some wobbles. It made me feel confident to do so well, which is obviously a big deal competing with so many girls."
While Carter had reason to be excited with her own performance, she was more thrilled by the team's effort as a whole.
"This was a really good meet for us," she said. "We've been closer to 130 lately. We've been working on hitting our routines in practice over and over and we did pretty good today."
An undermanned Batavia squad was sixth with a 132.5. Natalie Hayden took 10th on vault and recorded a 33.9 in the all-around.
The host Wildcats, who last won their own invite in 2009, took seventh place with a 127.85. Lauren Cordero led teammate all-arounders Amelia Wachtel, Susan Jones and Jordan McCarthy with a 33.2 for 13th place overall.
Kaneland's Alexis Kerrins earned a 9.05 on floor and 31.85 in the all-around.
District 230 co-op's Taylor Talley won vault and the all-around while Lincoln-Way co-op's Korina Jarosz won bars and Allie Reis was the top performer on floor.